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What Moms of Kids With Food Allergies Are Doing on New Year's

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My how quickly time flies. The new year is upon us, as we all sit back and reflect upon what we have gained, lost and learned during the last year.

Many of us in the food allergy community have gained new friends, new experiences and some great memories. We will treasure each one, as we move on to another year.

Our food allergy community has lost some wonderful children and people in 2017. We will not forget them, and will do what we can to help their families honor them and spread awareness.

We have participated in a Food Allergy Research and Education walk to raise money, we have done much research and made many phone calls, we have learned about some new products to try, and some new advances in food allergy research. We have gained some humanity through our struggles, we long to pass on our knowledge and to help others. We are determined, and we are hopeful.

Here is a list of some of the things we may be doing on New Year’s Eve:

1. Planning a fun night for our kids, whether it’s at a party or at home. If we plan on attending a party we will most likely bring our own allergen free food/drinks to ensure our children are safe. We always make safe Shirley Temples with lemon-lime soda or ginger ale and melted Luigi’s Cherry Ices, which are nut free. We also make some appetizers like homemade pizza, pigs in a blanket or crackers and cheese. We make either homemade black and white cookies or brownies. The snacks are delicious and we toast the new year with our party hats on and lots of smiles, while we continue the tradition of watching Dick Clark’s Rockin’ Eve.

2. If we are hosting our own party, we will do whatever we can to be inclusive. We will find out beforehand if any of our guests, especially the children, have any special or dietary needs or allergies. We will change our menu, music, lighting, plans in order to accommodate and include everyone. We want all guests to feel welcome and safe. If we are attending a party, we watch our children like a hawk. We make sure they only eat what we bring for them, or what we know is allergy friendly. This is something we have practiced often during the year and they must learn this rule at an early age. Mistakes happen though, so we must clutch our epinephrine injectors and stay close to our children. We must do this until they are old enough to keep themselves secure and make informed decisions. If there happens to be a rude party guest who has no concerns for our child’s safety, we must be prepared to leave.

3. Relaxing at a vacation destination such as Walt Disney World, Marriott or Hershey Park Resorts where they have extensive training in how to keep guests with food allergies safe. When we go there we can all have a wonderful time, not have to worry about cooking, and let our kids dine out and enjoy their beautiful surroundings.

4. Trying to spread food allergy awareness to our family, neighbors and friends. Education is key in getting others to understand food allergies and become advocates not adversaries. Some topics like cross-contamination are confusing, but we can keep them informed and answer any questions they may have.

5. Checking out social media when we have a quick moment or two. We try to see if there is any food allergy news or updates. We share and pass on any knowledge to others. The more awareness the better. It helps to save lives.

6. Saying thank you to anyone who has helped keep our children protected over the past year. The support of family, friends, teachers, organizations and caregivers should never go unnoticed, and New Year’s Eve is a great time to thank those we may have forgotten over the holidays.

7. Thinking about goals for the New Year. How can we teach more people about food allergies? How can we relay the message that food allergies are life-threatening and not a joke? What more can we do to help keep our children safe from an anaphylactic reaction? What are some things we can teach them this year about how to keep themselves safe?

8. Spending time with the ones you love. Let them know how much you cherish them. Listen closely to their hopes and dreams. Help them realize them. Make plans for the future.

9. Thinking of the ways in which you can make the world a better place for those with special needs or disabilities. What good deeds can you do? How can you be a good role model to your kids? How can you show them that any type of bullying is wrong, including food allergy bullying? Teach them to respect others and treat them how they would like to be treated. Help them project the love they feel inside into the world.

10. Counting our blessings. We are so grateful that we have managed to keep our children with food allergies alive and thriving for another year. We may have made a few mistakes, or had a few close calls, but we will kiss their precious cheeks tonight with the knowledge of what we could have lost weighing heavily on our minds.

Thank you so much to anyone who has taught me and my child how to live safely with food allergies including No Nuts Moms Group, Allergic Living, FARE, FAACT, and Kids with Food Allergies Foundation. Thank you to The Mighty and Scary Mommy for publishing my blogs which spread more awareness. Thank you to the whole food allergy community and to the disability community, and all who support and love them.

We would not be here without you.

We love you.

And whatever you are doing on New Year’s Eve, we hope you will be surrounded by the ones you love, and we hope you have a wonderful year ahead!

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Photo by contributor.

Originally published: December 31, 2017
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